Monday, 1 September 2008


i'm going to find it difficult to post over the next month as ramadan starts from tonight. from tomorrow, we muslims will be taking no food or drink (not even water - nil by mouth as the doctors say) during daylight hours. we eat breakfast early in the morning, then eat again at sunset. this goes on for the whole month.

people often wonder why we do this. i think the response i hate most is "what? you can't eat all day? oh you poor thing". to which i say: why waste your time feeling sorry for me? at least i know that at the end of the day i'll be getting a full and tasty meal, and a nice warm bed to sleep in. what about all the people in this world who go hungry all day, who still have to work hard for a few measly dollars, and who don't know where there next meal is coming from? what about the people who don't have access to clean, running water and have to walk an hour each way to the nearest water source? what about the thousands who die each year because they don't have blankets to ward off the cold at night? those are the people who really need your sympathy, not me.

i fast during ramadan to remind me of what i have and how much i need to appreciate it. i fast to avoid arrogance; to remind me that i'm one car accident or medical diagnosis away from being a lifelong invalid, dependant on the state and the kindness of strangers. i fast to remind that life is not all about consumption, about what i have and what i can accumulate; that life is not just about me.

but it does mean that i tend to get quite tired at the end of an evening, and i'm not sure i'll have the energy at 9.30 or 10pm (which is when i usually sit down to write) to say anything coherent. but i'll try.

in case you missed it, i posted about arranged marriages earlier today at the hand mirror.

now that the labour party list is out, i can finally say that i'm a candidate for the labour party. over at the hand mirror, someone called mkura questioned why i was standing for labour:

Anjum... why?

This is the same Labour party that committed a huge modern day raupatu via the Foreshore and Seabed Act, oversaw the Oct 15 'Anti-Terror' raids, sent SAS troops to war against Afghanistan, allowed Ahmed Zaoui to be held in solitary for ... way too long and have written all kinds of clauses into immigration law discriminating against, well, anyone who isnt a WASP and the list goes on...

Why o why would you lend them a veneer of happy rainbow nation legitimacy with your good name?The colonial parliament isnt even a legal entity FFS, its an instrument of the illegal foreign occupation of these islands!


and here is my reply:

mkura, i've been thinking about how to respond to you, because i can understand how you feel. i don't think any answer i can give will satisfy you, but i can just put my reasons out there and leave you to judge them as you will.

the reason i stand for and with labour is that i'd much rather see a centre left government ruling this country than a centre-right one. under a centre-right government you would never have seen the primary health care strategy, for example, which is sheer brilliance though never recognised as such. you would never have seen working for families which targets poorer households; rather you would have had across-the-board tax cuts that benefitted the rich. you would not have had the low level of employment, the investment in skills based training, the raising of the minimum wage each year, the reduction in public debt, the investment and encouragement towards savings rather than consumption and so much more.

of course the centre-left is not perfect and has many shortcomings. it would be nice if we could move much further and faster on getting increased protections for workers, particularly low-paid workers; if we could get more money to those right at the bottom of the heap; if we could have a better solution to the foreshore and seabed; if we could have immigration law that had more compassion.

with a lot of these issues, the problem is about getting numbers on the day, and about trying to fight a media-driven hysteria to come up with the best answer that you can under the circumstances. it's about being able to persuade people with the arguments, and when that argument just doesn't get through because media won't report your side impartially (eg the herald and the EFA as the most blatant example), then you do the best you can and hope to live to fight another day to achieve a better outcome.

why? mkura, because i think it's better to get involved inside the system and try to improve it, rather than to stay outside and try to change through other forms of political activism. i think both ways of working are valid, but i've chosen to do the former. i don't know how successful i am in terms of changing things for the better, but i really do try.

that's why.


Anonymous said...

Dear Anjum,

I am currently working with Amnesty International New Zealand with a particular responsibility for our Election Campaign ( As part of our commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights we are seeking to ensure human rights are promoted and protected by sending out a questionnaire to all candidates standing in the upcoming elections. However, I lack your email contact details to alert you to the necessary information in an easy-to-respond questionnaire. Can you please send me your preferred email address, so that we can include any response you choose to make? You can contact me on

Regards and thanks,

Sara Lembrechts - Campaigns Intern
Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand
ph: +64-9-303-4520 fax: +64-9-303 4528

NEW LOCATION!!: 68 Grafton Road, Grafton, Auckland
P O Box 5300, Wellesley St, Auckland, 1141

Please think of the environment before printing this email

"You must be the change you want to see in the world - Mahatma Gandhi"

Anonymous said...

Now *you* I'd be very tempted to vote for. Despite your awful bell hooks insensitivity I find myself reading your work with considerable interest. You make me think, dammit!

Good luck, and please, a centre-left coalition by solstice.

(who will not be voting for Nick Smith, despite having the opportunity)

stargazer said...

thanx moz, i think? can you give me some examples of this "awful bell hooks insensitivity" please. if i'm offending people, i'd at least like to be doing it deliberately!

but yes, i really do thank you for taking the time to read my blog and i'm glad i make you think. i find i really enjoy writing, much more than i expected, but it's even better knowing that people actually enjoy reading this.